The Top Four Voter Questions About Ohio Issue 1, Answered

On May 8th, voters in Ohio will have a chance to fight gerrymandering in congressional districts by voting on Issue 1. That sure sounds exciting… but in case you don’t have a law degree or a Google Alert set up to ping you whenever the word “gerrymandering” comes up, you might not know exactly what that means.

Luckily, local experts realized this, and they’ve got our backs.

In March and April, anti-gerrymandering advocates are holding a series of informational forums to give voters the rundown on what gerrymandering is, how it affects Ohioans, and what exactly Issue 1 is. The events feature speakers from Common Cause Ohio, League of Women Voters, NAACP, and more, and they’ve been packed.

During Q&A, people have asked some great questions about Issue 1. Here are the top four questions people asked in the forums, which are still ongoing (find more upcoming events here):

What exactly does Issue 1 do?

The current political system allows self-serving politicians to rig the outcome of our elections by picking which voters are in which election districts. That way, they know the outcome of elections before we even vote. It’s called gerrymandering.

When they gerrymander our elections, politicians put their own interests ahead of the people of Ohio, and make it nearly impossible for the voters to hold politicians accountable.

Issue 1:

  • Stops politicians from drawing district lines in back rooms, and forces them to agree on new districts via public, bipartisan agreement.
  • Ensures a transparent redistricting process by requiring public hearings and allowing public submission of proposed plans.

This amendment ensure that districts are drawn fairly so that no party has an unfair advantage, and force politicians in both parties to be more accountable to their constituents through more competitive elections.

Didn’t we already pass Issue 1 in 2015?

Not quite: Voters did half the job in 2015.

In 2015, Ohio voters ended gerrymandering of state legislative districts lines — but this vote didn’t affect US congressional districts. The 2015 reform was also called Issue 1, and it passed with 71.5% of Ohioans voting “yes.”

This May’s vote relates to gerrymandering of congressional districts.

How did Issue 1 end up on the May ballot?

Just like the 2015 ballot measure that fixed state legislative lines, the amendment this May (called “Issue 1”) was placed before the voters by the Ohio state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support (31-0 in the Senate and 83-10 in the House).

In the state House, more than 80 percent of Democrats and Republicans supported the measure. Republican House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger described the amendment as a historic reform: “We are showing across the nation, that here at least in Ohio, we still know what it means to compromise, to work across the aisle, to have adult conversations and actually do something for the citizens of our state.”

Why did politicians agree to put this on the ballot? They heard from hundreds of volunteers who gathered over 200,000 signatures to put gerrymandering on the ballot.

Weren’t we collecting signatures to put Issue 1 on the ballot in November?

Yes.

Hundreds of volunteers gathered over 200,000 signatures to put gerrymandering on the November ballot – and that momentum prompted lawmakers to the bipartisan negotiations that brought Issue 1 to the ballot in May.

Volunteers are still collecting signatures to put gerrymandering on the November ballot, in case the May initiative doesn’t pass, but they are supporting the May ballot measure because it can reform gerrymandering sooner and with historic bipartisan agreement.

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Have a question that isn’t covered here? Join an upcoming informational session or watch a recording of the Beechwood panel here:

April 19 – Kent: Join us for Redistricting and Gerrymandering in America: The Effort to Reform How Districts Are Drawn on Thursday, April 19 from 7:00pm-8:30pm at Kent United Church of Christ

April 23 – Athens: Do you want to learn more about Issue 1? Join us for an informational meeting about State Issue 1, the bipartisan congressional redistricting reform amend on the May Ballot, on Monday April 23 from 6:30pm-8:00pm in the Athens Community Center in Room A, 701 E State St, Athens, OH 45701.

April 26 – Cleveland: The City Club of Cleveland is holding a special forum Ohio Ballot Beat: The Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment (Issue 1) from noon to 1:30pm on Thursday, April 26 at the City Club.

About kerrin
Kerrin is the Digital Campaigns Intern at Represent.Us and is a full-time student studying communications and political science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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